Ullger to remain in post as Commissioner for another year, at least

28th March 2022
The Commissioner of Police, Richard Ullger, will remain in the post through to April 2023, in a move that adds a year to his tenure and seeks to ensure “continuity and stability” as the Royal Gibraltar Police ploughs on with a programme to reform the force to best meet the challenges of modern policing on the Rock.

The decision was announced on Monday by the Governor of Gibraltar, Vice Admiral Sir David Steel, on the recommendation of the Gibraltar Police Authority and in consultation with Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.

Mr Ullger was appointed as Commissioner in July 2020 following the unexpected retirement of his predecessor, Ian McGrail, two years into what should have been a four-year term. He was initially due to serve until April 2022.

At the time of his appointment, the Governor said an “open recruitment process” would invite applications for the job from both within the RGP and externally, potentially including qualified candidates from other jurisdictions.

In the event though, Mr Ullger will remain in post for at least another year “…and thereafter as the Governor is advised by the Gibraltar Police Authority,” the Office of the Governor said in a statement.

Sir David said that he had enjoyed working with Mr Ullger during a period when the Royal Gibraltar Police had demonstrated “immense professionalism” throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, as well in implementing a comprehensive reform programme designed to ensure that the force is better equipped to meet the requirements of the community it serves.

“My admiration for the men and women of the Royal Gibraltar Police and those who support those in uniform could not be greater,” Sir David said.

“The policing challenge gets greater day by day and a well-led police force needs continuity and stability in senior leadership, especially while in the middle of a reform programme designed to ensure that it can best meet the needs of Gibraltar today and in the future.”

“The Chief Minister and I will continue to do all we can to ensure the Commissioner and the RGP are fully supported in all they are looking to achieve for Gibraltar.”

Mr Ullger took up the top post in the RGP at a difficult time for the force.

Mr McGrail retired from the RGP early in June, 2020, stepping down from the post of Commissioner after a 36-year career in the service in a move that raised questions as to the reasons for the sudden decision.

The reasons and circumstances leading to the retirement will be the subject of a public inquiry in the coming months chaired by Sir Peter Openshaw, a retired High Court Judge of the Queen’s Bench Division in England and Wales.

The retirement also came just weeks after the publication of a hard-hitting report on the RGP by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services [HMICFRS], the independent UK body that assesses police and fire and rescue services to promote improvements in the way they operate.

The HMIC report identified serious weaknesses in systems and processes that lie at the core of the RGP’s structures and the way it engages with both its own officers and the public.

It made far-reaching recommendations on assessing and understanding “demand, risk and vulnerability”, and set out guidance on how the force can better promote “ethics, fairness and transparency”.

Implementing the recommendations of the HMICFRS has been a core focus for Mr Ullger and his senior management team and is an ongoing process, with HMICFRS inspectors due to back in Gibraltar in April.

Reacting to the news, Mr Ullger said he was proud and honoured to accept the appointment.

“Over the past two years, the Royal Gibraltar Police has undertaken a process of reform, in order to make us better at what we do,” he said.

“Following the recommendations from the inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Services in 2020, together with the Command Team we have addressed how we investigate and record crime better, improved the standards of behaviours of our people and robustly dealt with officers and staff that do not deserve to be part of our organisation.”

“We have also improved our response to incidences of crime and emergencies reported to us, protecting the vulnerable and providing a better coordinated service to victims of crimes.”

“Through improved strategic demand assessments we are better at understanding the policing demands and predicting it, and this has made us more effective and efficient.”

“We have also improved our approach to the way we investigate domestic abuse and created a dedicated unit that investigates the most serious of domestic abuse cases.”

“I strongly believe we have created an environment for victims to have confidence and trust in us to report these most heinous crimes.”

Mr Ullger praised his officers and support staff for engaging positively in the process of reform, adding he was confident the HMICFRS inspectors would acknowledge the “vast improvements” made to address all their earlier recommendations.

He said the RGP was “a learning organisation” that would adopt any further recommendations that may arise from the inspection next month.

And he highlighted too areas of improvement identified by his own Command Team as part of the reform process.

“I am also acutely aware of the issues we need to resolve,” he said.

“We desperately need a new police HQ to work from and our IT System although recently upgraded, needs more improvements.”

“We also need to employ the last batch of 5 officers from the 25 cohort agreed to in July 2018, and we need to civilianise some of the posts currently undertaken by police officers.”

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